DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Cannabis 'Coffeeshops' Opening

June 14- The Boston Herald reports: Despite a gaping deficit, Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse is handing out $1,000 bonuses to prison guards - just for passing mandatory drug tests, records show.

The bonus payments have cost Rouse's cash-strapped department close to $800,000 in the past year as he wrangles with a $6.5 million budget deficit that has already forced more than 130 layoffs.

June 16- The Arizona Republic reports: Canada should get tough on marijuana instead of decriminalizing the drug or allowing people to use it for medicinal purposes, U.S. drug policy chief John Walters said.

"Canada's decision about how it handles this or other issues of regulated substance is its decision. We respect that," Walters told reporters last week during a two-day visit for an international meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

But he made it clear the U.S. government disagrees with recent moves in Canada to liberalize drug policies.

A Canadian Senate committee has expressed initial support for decriminalizing marijuana. A preliminary report released in May said no scientific evidence exists that marijuana use leads to harder drugs or that it is more dangerous to society than alcohol.

June 16- Australia's Sunday Telegraph reports: The lunchtime trade at the Karma Cafe was booming last Wednesday. The tables were packed and at the counter, customers queued to get their orders in.

To one side of the counter, next to the coffee machine, the busy staff took requests for cafe lattes, chicken sandwiches and mineral water. And on the other, they sold cannabis.

"New name, same business," as one member of staff remarked. And if last week is anything to go by, business is booming.

Cannabis is the most widely used drug in Australia, according to a National Drug Household Survey.

About 39 per cent of people reported using marijuana at some time, with 18 per cent having used it in the past 12 months.

June 17- The Edinburgh Evening News reports: Scotlandís first cannabis cafe could be set to open in Edinburgh within weeks, according to the city publisher trying to get the venture off the ground.

Kevin Williamson, who founded publishing firm Rebel Inc, has already launched a recruitment drive for the coffee shop, based on Amsterdam's famous attractions.

Job adverts taken out for the Rebel Inc coffee shop state the "groundbreaking" project will be a place where cannabis will be able to be "openly consumed and purchased".

June 18- The New York Times reports: The Supreme Court ruled today that in conducting random searches for drugs or weapons on buses, the police need not advise passengers that they are free to refuse permission to be searched.

June 18- Reuters reports: Better, more efficient growing techniques are slashing marijuana prices in Australia and pushing up consumption.

Prices of the weed have fallen in real terms by almost 40 per cent over the past 10 years, according to a survey by the Economic Research Centre at the University of Western Australia.

Marijuana remains illegal here, but smoking or possessing small amounts has been decriminalized in most Australian states. "Even though marijuana is an illegal substance in Australia it seems that the application of modern production techniques, particularly hydroponic techniques, has led to a substantial increase in supply," said Professor Ken Clements who led the research.

"Australians are widely recognized as big beer drinkers but what we've found is that they are also among the biggest marijuana consumers in the world," Clements said.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at kcnelson@premier1.net.

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